It’s now illegal for Chinese vloggers to shoot mukbang videos, but why?

It's now illegal for Chinese vloggers to shoot mukbang videos, but why?
(Image: Chinese Food & Mukbang)

You can still take pleasure in the sumptuous sounds of mukbang videos, just not from Chinese vloggers.

That’s because Chinese President Xi Jinping has outlawed last Thursday, May 6, overblown gluttony in public and on social media. But it’s not because China has a food shortage — it’s actually part of Xi’s campaign to conserve food resources by reducing excess consumption, to the bane of binge-eating mukbangers.

From an economic standpoint, the new law is seen as a foresighted move that prioritizes food security. This comes as China seeks to stabilize its domestic grain output and supply amidst increasing domestic demand and external uncertainties, which probably now includes a global pandemic.

From an ASMR aficionado’s standpoint, though, that means we can’t see Chinese vloggers create mukbang videos anymore, else they face a steep fine of up to 100,000 yuan (about PhP742,000). The 32-clause legislation identifies the group as they have been known to leave a lot of food untouched when they shoot mukbang or competitive eating videos. Worse, they even throw up their exaggerated meals.

The same rules apply to restaurant diners, who may be charged more than what they owe if they leave behind a lavish amount of food. Even food providers and foodservice operators that throw out their food supplies, or mislead buyers into making exorbitant food orders face fines of up to 50,000 yuan (about PhP370,000).

According to Chinese news agency Xinhua News, around 18 billion kilograms of food is wasted every year in China’s urban catering industry.

The news website Vice has already reported that censors have already scrubbed such content off of Chinese social media sites, including Douyin, which is basically the Chinese counterpart of TikTok. Many internet users also applauded the new law, showing their empty plates as part of China’s ongoing “Clear Your Plate” campaign on the Chinese site Weibo.

Culinary circles have also begun to set mechanisms to stave off starving customers’ tendencies to order too much such as what they call “N-1” meals. Per BBC, this is a system where the number of dishes is one less than the number of seated customers; if five people are seated, then only four dishes at most will be served.

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In case you haven’t drooled over one yet, mukbang videos were is a booming trend that started with South Korean YouTubers who ate platter upon platter of various foods in an indulgent style that stressed every sip slurp, munch, and crunch. The concept sounds ridiculous — probably to our Asian mothers who would spank us if we didn’t finish our food — but professional mukbangers can actually make up to $10,000 a month for their avid appetites, hence the popularity.

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